Despite the advent of “The Cloud”, local hardware will always be needed. Even the most basic small business client has a router, network switch, PC, and one or more printers. Other clients may have Firewalls, Servers, Plotters, Multi-Function Units and various other hardware – most of them support IP.
Multiply that by multiple clients, and you have so much hardware that it becomes very easy to waste a lot of time and effort trying to manage it – if you’re not organized.
From Chaos to Order
The first step to keeping clutter at bay is to buy a Label Printer. My personal favorite is the P-Touch Handheld range from Brother. Anything you can easily carry around, plug it into the mains (using batteries is fine – but the battery runs out, and you then start forgetting to label things) and the printed labels will do the job. If you have more than one engineer, buy all label printers and have them label them with their own names – they will most likely take care of it.
Next, arrange a time for an engineer to visit the client’s site with labels ready – pick up and label any with a power plug on the end and make a written note for each to be brought back to the office.
(Speaking of power plugs, get your technician in the habit of labeling these as well, especially servers. Knowing clearly which plug the PC has and which the monitor has is a real benefit as you crawl under a dark table on a dirty floor trying to figure out what’s going on. should be revoked and what should not.)
But why bother labeling something?
First, you acknowledge the existence of the device. If it’s labeled, you know it and can document it for future reference.
Second, when new hardware “mysteriously” appears on the client’s site and the client calls you for support on it (perhaps outside of your support contract), you can save yourself a lot of time trying to figure out why Windows 7 Home Edition was installed there instead of O/ S Business.
Third, hardware labeling speeds up the support process. If a user calls the Helpdesk to say they can’t print to “That printer in the corner of the office,” you can ask them to read the label and quickly identify which printer they’re trying to print to.
What should be labeled?
What the label says depends on the hardware, but the label will help you easily identify the hardware in question. Some examples:-
PC – Workstation Name, Fixed IP Address (if applicable)
Server – Server name, Fixed IP address, Domain name
Router/Firewalls – External IP Address, Internal IP Address
Network Switch – Internal IP address, Management IP address
Local Printer – Name of locally installed Workstation
Network Printer – Fixed IP Address, Queue Name (//Server/Queue)
We won’t worry about Workstation and Server naming schemes, IP address ranges or other standards. Right now we’re focused on documenting what’s already out there.
In some cases, engineers will not be able to identify network equipment. Instead of ignoring the hardware, they should label it as “unknown” and apply for a support ticket or make a written note to investigate how to identify it later.
This takes time, especially if you have a lot of clients – but it’s time well spent. You should make this type of ‘discovery work’ part of the onboarding process of every new client, as time spent finding hardware now will pay dividends when you support the same hardware later – perhaps in time-sensitive situations.
Document your findings
Going forward, establish a policy that from now on, any hardware you deploy to client sites must have a label on it.
Document your findings. If you have an RMM tool like GFI Max, then you can already scan the network for devices. Reed Manning, Spa & Salon Complete this automated information with your own findings.
Soon you will have a good overview of the hardware on all your client sites. AKDSEO merupakan agency digital marketing yang fokus melayani jasa Backlinks dan Link building website, termasuk di dalamnya Jasa Menaikkan DA ( Domain Authority) This will make supporting clients, both remote and local, *remote* easier.
The use of labels as a force of kindness does not stop there.
Hardware in the Workshop
Whenever an engineer brings hardware back to the Workshop for troubleshooting, it needs to be labeled. You can label it with the client’s name, a brief overview of the issue, and if you use a ticketing system, the ticket number.
This may sound obvious, but how many times have engineers walked back into the office, dropped some broken hardware and then got distracted by something else? In this scenario, a colleague might be left scratching his head about who the hardware belongs to and why it’s here, or worse, assume the hardware is “spare” and go and reuse it for other work they’re working on. ..
Speaking of backup hardware – it’s worth creating a process to handle this as well. I like to create dedicated workshop areas for Hardware in Repair, Hardware in testing, and Hardware for disposal. Then, when the hardware comes in…
If hardware is to be shipped back to the manufacturer under RMA, it is labeled as such and placed in the “Under Repair” area of the repair shop.
If the hardware may be faulty and requires testing, a ticket is raised for this and labeled as “For Testing” and labeled with the appropriate ticket number. The hardware is then placed in the “For Testing” area, and you can confidently give the new Junior Technician something productive to do on his first day in the office.
If the hardware is for disposal, it will be labeled with an error and marked as “For Disposal”. It is placed in the “For Disposal” area of the workshop and once every few weeks you arrange for a specialist IT disposal company to collect the pile and dispose of it in an ethical and environmentally friendly manner.
Save Time With Labels
The amount of time IT companies can spend trying to reuse broken hardware that’s been left lying around, or retesting equipment that is known to be faulty is staggering.
The simple hardware labeling system saves hours of time.
I hope this article has helped explain how with a label printer you can build the foundation of a set of systems that explain how your business relates to client hardware.
About the Author
Former owner of the award-winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSP to help them increase sales, hire employees and build relationships with key industry contacts. You don’t have to do it yourself anymore – call Richard and talk about your needs and how he can help you.